What do you picture when you imagine live streaming? It might be an influencer unboxing a package on Instagram, someone playing video games on Twitch, or your niece or nephew’s graduation ceremony you can’t attend in person. These examples, however, only scratch the surface of how deep live streaming permeates our lives.
We live in the video age, and businesses that don’t leverage streaming in both live and on-demand forms are missing out. Your competitors are doing it and your audience expects it. Video isn’t some passing fad or bandwagon everyone is jumping on arbitrarily, either — streaming promises real, long-term benefits to businesses that apply it wisely.
Not convinced? Or if you are, the next question is how? Let’s dig into why you should leverage live streaming for business and the best ways to go about it.
Why Add Live Streaming to Your Business Strategy?
Not so long ago, print and radio advertising ruled the marketing world. Companies were initially hesitant to branch out into digital marketing — what was this “internet” thing people were starting to go crazy about, and would it last? Digital marketing soon became ubiquitous, and no business around today would imagine trying to reach customers without it.
Live streaming for business is at that same precipice, only this time companies are learning from mistakes of the past and taking the leap sooner than later. For instance:
- Businesses that include video on landing pages can increase conversion by as much as 80%
- In the B2B space, 59% of executives prefer watching videos over reading text
- 73% of companies report positive ROI results from live video
- Grand View Research projects the worldwide streaming market will reach $330.51 billion by 2030
- Wyzowl reports that 86% of businesses use video in their marketing strategies
- The same source also found that 92% of marketers consider video an “important part” of said strategies
Companies’ endeavors are paying off, too. Viewers prefer video over almost any other marketing method:
Video is everywhere. It’s reached a point where consumers expect it, so the absence of live video from your marketing strategy can actually turn people away from your business or damage your brand’s reputation. Instead, potential customers will turn to your competitors that publish well-produced content on a regular basis.
What Live Streaming Marketing Does for You
Those are the numbers, but why are they so? The reason behind them is due to several factors including video’s ability to create more emotional connections, how compelling and attention-grabbing it is compared to other media, and convenience compared to reading.
Think about how door-to-door sales are almost dead: you don’t like someone approaching you out of the blue to give a spiel about a product. With video, though, you have engaging visual elements combined with audio that tell a more intriguing story, better informing you how a product would fit into your life. Plus, you can watch videos on your own time, so you can always move on from watching something you’re not interested in.
As a marketer, you can use live streaming to:
Connect With Your Audience
Touching on the emotionality point mentioned above, video is more enticing than typical social media images, text, and sound bites (thus why it accounts for so much internet traffic). Live streaming’s storytelling opportunities are broader: instead of merely showing an image that promotes your business, a video lets you explore what your brand actually stands for, what your mission is, and why it should matter to viewers.
Reach More Viewers
Besides connecting with viewers on a deeper level, a live streaming marketing strategy combined with VOD allows you to produce and curate more relevant content that consumers can find organically. Doing so dramatically expands your reach: for example, even if your standard Instagram posts only make an impression on a few hundred users, people actively searching for videos through hashtags and Reels opens your content to the entirety of that niche audience on the platform. It’s also possible to invite however many people you want to tune into a live stream where they can ask questions, comment, and otherwise make the algorithm work in your favor.
Boost Brand Authority
Well-produced videos (no video is better than poor-quality ones) grant your brand an air of legitimacy. They indicate you have the creative resources (which don’t require a big budget!), passion, and expertise to solidify your status as a leader in your industry.
Again, think from the mindset of a consumer shopping for goods or services. Between a company that only provides images and text and one that has a video that conveys the same information, which do you trust more? It’s only psychology, but it can work in your favor. Even better, streaming a video in real time instead of an uploaded one really shows you’re confident and know what you’re talking about.
Examples of Live Streaming for Business
Say you know that video marketing is a good idea ,but you’re struggling to imagine exactly what role video should play in your business strategy. We can guess your next question: What does live streaming marketing actually look like?
Let’s take a look at a few examples different industries have employed in the past:
Live events are an obvious choice. Anything from concerts and games to product launches attract viewers because they want to see what happens in real time so they can share in the joy in being one of the first people to see it.
You don’t even need to let your audience know to expect a live stream ahead of time, either: in 2016, Target famously broadcasted the first-ever live music video with Gwen Stefani during a Grammy Awards commercial break. Could they have recorded and streamed a music video like any other? Yes, but once the audience learned it was all in one take — no mistakes allowed, which required several days of rehearsal — it made the event that much more impressive and special.
What better way to demonstrate how a product works to a large number of people than to live stream it? Show off how to use your product (or how your services work) in a way that allows thousands or even millions of viewers to tune in. One of the caveats of online shopping is that it lacks a tactile experience, so you can compensate for this with a live video that’s the next-best thing to shoppers being able to physically hold and touch the product before buying.
On a related note, live streaming marketing is revolutionizing e-commerce through shoppable videos. China is ahead of the game with this one thanks to Taobao, the world’s largest online retail site. It allows businesses from cosmetics entrepreneurs to farmers to live stream their products to real audiences, who can then add their favorite items to their virtual cart with only a click.
Amazon, TikTok, Facebook, and Walmart are also exploring shoppable video in the US. If you’re a retail business, you can use these platforms to reach wider audiences than you ever could in person and convince them to make a purchase.
Another creative idea you can execute is hosting a virtual tour. You (or the most charismatic person on your team, or even an internet celebrity for an influencer takeover) can use your camera to guide viewers around your business’s physical space so they can see where the magic happens, giving them an inside look at how your company operates while humanizing your brand.
Dunkin Donuts combined a Valentine’s product announcement with a live tour of its kitchen, interviewing several members of its staff. This live stream generated excitement about its seasonal donuts and gave viewers a glimpse of how it bakes its products before they reach shelves. Virtual tours are also particularly popular amongst interior designers and home flippers.
One of the best ways to generate excitement around a product launch is to stream it live. People won’t be able to help but wonder, what launch is significant enough that it warrants announcing it in real time? They’ll want to tune in so they can participate in the discussions afterward rather than discovering the buzz later.
Disney is good at this. Though Disney is famous for its VOD content, it live streams its annual Disney+ Day and D23 Expo where it announces its upcoming original shows and movies. Disney+ Day 2021 was poorly received due to minimal new footage and the choice to announce new movies via Twitter thread, but the company seems to have learned from that mistake and made the 2022 event more comprehensive. Even after a poor 2021 event, though, Disney+ gained 306,322 more subscribers in the following three days, showcasing the power of live streaming announcements and virtual events.
Live Tutorials or Classes
Similar to product demos, live streaming is an opportunity to teach people something through tutorials or classes — only this time, you’re teaching more than just how a product works. CAIA Cosmetics founder Bianca Ingrosso hosts live makeup tutorials, simultaneously showing off her products while teaching viewers skillsets they’re interested in. The company becomes more than a retailer this way: it becomes a resource consumers can turn to, strengthening its online brand presence and optimizing engagement with its videos.
Host interviews with experts to educate people about your business or industry. You can bring in an outside expert or the most experienced person at your company to talk about misconceptions in your industry, the most important things consumers should know, how your brand came to be, what your mission is, and more. Live streaming is an excellent medium for this style of marketing because it’s interactive and allows viewers around the world to ask their own questions in real time.
Competitions are best streamed live because no one wants to find out who the winner is after everyone else does. You can generate buzz around your business by hosting a trivia contest, displaying submissions of user-generated content, physical competitions like races and obstacle courses, or any other kind of game that draws attention encourages audience participation.
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How to Implement Live Streaming
Now that you have some ideas for ways to incorporate live streaming into your business strategy, let’s discuss how to make that happen. You can follow these steps:
Step 1: Decide on a Platform
Decide where you want to reach your audience before you start producing live streams. You have several options: social media, out-of-the-box platforms, or fully integrated solutions.
Social media is the cheaper route and where many businesses start. Hosting live interviews or behind the scenes tours are easy when all you need to do is use a camera phone and stream via Instagram, Facebook, or YouTube Live. Costs of production are low and the apps are free to use, but you’re restricted to the audience you have on each platform with minimal freedom to customize the viewing experience.
If you want more ownership over your streams, then it’s wise to build your own live streaming channel. Out-of-the-box solutions offer drag-and-drop options you can use to create a branded video platform that plays only your streams.
These solutions are easy to use from a technical standpoint but still limit you in terms of customizability and scale. A fully integrated solution like Wowza, however, empowers your business to build its own video platform from the ground-up, so you can control everything from live transcoding and content management to analytics and what your player looks like. Wowza also offers high-end security and robust features that make streaming to a million viewers easy, even if video isn’t one of your business’s areas of expertise.
Download our free Buyer’s Guide to Video Streaming Platforms to determine which platform is best for your business.
Step 2: Determine How to Monetize
The platform you choose affects how you can monetize your live streams. You may choose to not monetize them at all and only use them for brand awareness, which is fine, but you have a few options for making money off your live streams, including:
- Making them shoppable if you’re selling a product directly
- Generating revenue through inserting ads (which makes your content free for viewers)
- Charging subscriptions to access content
- Working with sponsors that support production in exchange for shoutouts
- Soliciting donations, such as for nonprofits
Knowing how you’ll generate revenue is an integral part of your live streaming strategy and impacts what kind of content you’ll create, so consider what your audience will accept based on your business model.
Step 3: Choose a Frequency to Stream
How often will you stream live? Streaming once in a blue moon is likely not often enough because your audience might forget you. Decide on a schedule that’s consistent, feasible to produce, and keeps your audience engaged. The more you stream, the more your audience knows to anticipate great content from you, but you also want to strike a healthy balance that doesn’t reduce your content’s quality or make the work impossible to keep up with.
Step 4: Adjust Content Based on Performance
Monitor how your live streams perform. Almost every platform offers analytics tools — some more in-depth than others — so use these insights to make data-driven decisions that drive your live streaming marketing strategy. For instance, if interviews with experts generate lots of engagement but product announcements don’t, you know what to produce more or less of.
Step 5: Save and Distribute as VOD
Your live streams don’t have to be one-and-done pieces of content. Instead, you can make them evergreen by recording them and publishing them online as videos on-demand. Whether you use YouTube or a branded OTT platform, recording your streams allows audience members who couldn’t watch live to view them on their own time.
Putting Together a Live Streaming for Business Strategy
Live streaming isn’t a marketing ploy you should ignore. The industry is only growing upward, and it presents you untapped opportunities to expand your audience, connect with them, and solidify your brand’s authority.
Don’t worry if video isn’t one of your business’s core competencies, though. Wowza can help you build a cloud or software-based platform that fits your business’s needs while allowing you to scale in the future. Start a Wowza Video or Wowza Streaming Engine trial today and get started imagining all the ways live streaming can take your brand to the next level.